Dear *Insert your name here*,

Please stop doing crunches and sit ups. They’re killing me.

Sincerely,

Your Lower Back

 

If this message speaks to you, I know you can do better with your core training. If you don’t know where to start or need to refresh yourself on what other “ab” exercises are out there, go here and watch a few unfamiliar exercises.

You can train your core in a multitude of different ways regarding volume, type, sets, reps, and so on. I’m going to give you a couple different ways to do it without using a lot of extra time or ending up with a sore lower back.

Core Training Idea #1

Add core exercises into your current routine, using them as “rest” for the muscle groups you’re working. For example:

You currently lift 4 days per week, including two upper body days and two lower body days. Your upper body day may look like this:

Perform 3 sets of 8 of exercises 1-3, with no rest in between lifts. Rest 1 minute, and perform exercises 4-6, then 7-9. Repeat that sequence one more time.

  1. Bench press
  2. Barbell bent over row
  3. Physioball stir the pot
  4. Dumbbell shoulder press
  5. Seated row
  6. Plank with alternating leg lift
  7. Tricep push down
  8. Hammer curl
  9. Physioball jackknife

And you’re done. Six upper body lifts and three core exercises that are all variations of a “plank”. While one muscle group is resting, the others are working, saving you enough time to go home and cook a healthy meal, which we all know is the most important ingredient in uncovering a defined core. You can do the same type of thing by putting in exercises that fall under the same plane of motion, described below.

Core Training Idea #2

Add core exercises to the end of each workout (ideally, 3-4 days per week). The most important thing to keep in mind here is to vary the type of core muscles you’re trying to train. Thinking of it in planes of motion, you have the frontal plane (bending to the side at the hips, side planks, etc.), the sagittal plane (front planks, leg lifts, etc.), and the transverse plane (rotating of any kind, pallof presses, etc.).

If you were to train one plane per day, you could add a few exercises at the end of your workout (taking up ~7-10 minutes) and your days might look like this:

Day 1: Frontal Plane (completed after lifting upper body)

  • Side plank – 3 sets of 15 seconds, rest 5 seconds
  • Single-arm dumbbell farmers carry – 3 sets of 20 yards/side, rest 10 seconds
  • Vertical pallof press – 3 sets of 5, rest 20 seconds

Day 2: Sagittal Plane (completed after lifting lower body)

  • Front plank – 3 sets of 20 seconds, rest 5 seconds
  • Hanging leg raise – 3 sets of 6, rest 30 seconds
  • Physioball rocking plank – 3 sets of 8, rest 20 seconds

Day 3: Transverse Plane (completed after performing cardio)

  • Lateral med ball toss – 3 sets of 6, rest 20 seconds
  • Pallof press – 3 sets of 6, rest 20 seconds
  • Resistance band horizontal twist – 3 sets of 6, rest 20 seconds

Core Training Idea #3

Stop eating so much junk food! No, this won’t make your core stronger, but if you want a midsection that resembles less of the Pillsbury Doughboy and more of a brick wall, then getting your eating habits under control should be a main focus of your attention.

 

If any of these exercises do end up giving you a sore lower back or any other type of pain, consult with a certified professional.